How to Crate Train Golden Retriever at Night

Medium
5-10 Days
General

Introduction

A Golden Retriever puppy curled up on your bed--what could be cuter? A 100-pound Retriever that spent the day swimming in a swamp, sprawled out in the middle of your bed on your new duvet...not so much!  

Training your Golden Retriever to sleep in a crate at night might be a better option, 'just saying! Having your Golden sleep in a crate at night has several advantages. Besides keeping your bed dog-free, it speeds up house training considerably, gets him accustomed to a crate that can later be used for addressing behavioral issues or traveling, and keeps your pup safe while you are sleeping--an unsupervised dog can chew on dangerous items like electrical cords or sharp objects, or get into food that will make him sick. Your Golden Retriever may not be too happy about the chosen sleeping location at first--your bed, after all, was pretty comfy--but there are several ways to make your Retriever's crate a favorite, safe place, for your dog. Dogs are, after all, “den” animals, and making your dog's crate his den gives him a safe place of his own to sleep quietly at night.

Defining Tasks

In order to train your Golden Retriever to happily and quietly sleep in a crate at night, you need to make the crate a great place. This means never using it as a form of punishment. Although confining your dog to a crate may be required to keep him out of trouble, it should never be accompanied by punishment or yelling, which will create a negative association with the crate.  

The younger you start your Golden Retriever learning to use his crate at night, and to be comfortable with it, the easier it will be to establish it as a quiet retreat your dog is happy to use. You may want to include a verbal command to give your dog direction to get into his crate, such as “kennel up”, “bedtime”, “den” or “crate”. It is not uncommon, especially for young dogs, to cry or whine at night when left in their crates at first. After all, they would rather be snuggled up with you. It is important not to respond to crying, which will only reinforce it. Keep in mind that a puppy or young dog may need to go out for potty breaks in the middle of the night. To avoid having to respond to a crying dog that needs a bathroom break, schedule breaks before your dog starts to vocalize, that way he will not need to alert you, and won't have crying reinforced by being let out of his crate for a midnight romp in the yard.

Getting Started

To make a crate comfy, you will want to line it with a blanket or towel. If you are using a wire crate instead of a hard-sided crate, you can put a blanket over the top to make it cozy and prevent drafts. Be sure that whatever crate you use, your Golden Retriever still has good airflow; one side should remain uncovered. Crates should be big enough for your Golden Retriever to stand up, turn around, and lie down in comfortably. If you buy a larger crate that will accommodate a young dog when they are full grown, you can partition off part of it when they are a puppy so it is not too spacious, which can give them an opportunity to pee in a corner away from where they sleep. To train your dog to be comfortable in his crate you may opt to remove the door at first, or tie it open so it does not close on your dog and startle him. Putting the crate in a warm location where your Golden can see you and the rest of the family and not feel isolated will meet with better success than putting the crate in an out-of-the-way location. If necessary, you can move the crate once your dog becomes used to it.

The Puppy Training Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Add scent to a toy
When you pick up your Golden Retriever puppy, bring a stuffed toy and rub it all over his litter mates and mom. Place the stuffed toy in your dog's crate so that he has the familiar smell of his siblings and mom. You can also place a warm, heated item like a hot water bottle or a toy with a “heartbeat” available at pet supply stores. Make sure toys are dog safe, and cannot be chewed apart and swallowed.
Step
2
Keep crate sessions short
Only place your Golden Retriever in his crate for a few hours at a time. Generally 1 hour for every 4 weeks of age is a guideline. A new 8-week old-puppy introduced to your home should not be confined for more than 2 hours to his crate.
Step
3
Tire him out
Have a long play time or walk before crating at bedtime. Really wear your young Golden out so he is ready for rest and quiet time.
Step
4
Let him out before bed
Feed your Golden Retriever at least an hour before bedtime, and withhold water for 30 minutes before bedtime. Let your puppy have a bathroom break immediately prior to crating at night, so he is able to hold it. A young dog may make it a few hours, while a mature dog will be able to make it until morning.
Step
5
Provide bathroom breaks
Schedule bathroom breaks regularly during the night for young dogs so that you can give your dog an opportunity to relieve himself before he begins to cry or whine. This avoids reinforcing vocalizations. If your Golden Retriever starts to cry in the night and you suspect it is due to potty needs, take your dog immediately outside to do his business, and then immediately back to his crate to minimize disruption to his crate routine.
Recommend training method?

The Get Familiar Method

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Step
1
Prepare the crate
Put your Golden Retriever’s crate in a busy area of the house, so he can see what is going on. At night, put the crate in your bedroom so he can see and hear you. Either tie the door open or remove it completely so that your dog is not startled by a closed door and feels trapped. Put a blanket inside the crate. Exercise or play with your Golden so he is in a relaxed, quiet mood ready for rest.
Step
2
Provide treats
Put a treat at the entrance to the crate and sit down with your dog. Provide treats at the door and toss treats inside for him to fetch.
Step
3
Keep your dog company
Ask your pup to 'crate up' and sit down next to him. Provide him treats while he sits or lies down in his crate, sit with him and watch TV or read a book, petting and praising him in the crate. If your Golden Retriever gets out of crate, ignore him. If he returns to the crate, give treats and affection.
Step
4
Provide activity before bed
Before bedtime, take your Golden out for a potty break and lots of exercise and play, so he is tired and ready to relax. At bedtime, ask your Golden to go in his crate and close the door. Sit with him and talk to him until he settles in for the night. If he vocalizes, ignore him, if he sits quietly, talk to him and reassure him.
Step
5
Ignore crying
During the night, ignore vocalizations unless you are sure your dog needs a potty break. Provide the potty break, but try to time it when your dog is not crying or whining. Ignore vocalizations--at first you may need to employ ear plugs or move to another room to get some sleep. Try to time training for a weekend or a day when you do not have work the next day so that you have more flexibility with your sleep schedule.
Recommend training method?

The Associate with Food Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Provide treats in the crate
Toss treats in your Golden's crate for him to retrieve.
Step
2
Provide meals in the crate
Put your Golden Retriever's food dish next to the crate and feed him there for a few days. Say “Kennel up”. Move his dish into the crate and let him eat in the crate while you stand with him and talk to him.
Step
3
Close the crate door
When your dog is comfortable eating in the crate, close the door while he is eating but remain with him, just outside the crate. Talk to him reassuringly. Repeat for a few days.
Step
4
Provide crate time
After eating, leave your dog in the crate for a few minutes after each meal with the door closed. Gradually increase the time so he gets used to staying in the crate longer and longer.
Step
5
Provide command and chew toys
Ask your Golden retriever to “Kennel up” , close the door, and provide him with a rawhide bone, pig ears or a Kong filled with peanut butter or canned dog food in his crate. Gradually increase the length of time he spends in his crate.
Step
6
Start night time use
Once your Golden is accustomed to his crate, start using it at night. Give him exercise and a bathroom break first then ask him to “kennel up” and close him in his crate. Keep him company and give him praise at first for a few minutes. Ignore vocalizations in the night.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Riggs
Golden Retriever
10 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Riggs
Golden Retriever
10 Weeks

Me and my wife recently brought home our male golden retriever puppy. We have had him for 2 weeks and for those two weeks we have gotten up in the middle of the night when he starts to whine to take him out to pee. I have had friends who are long time dog owners to not let him out in the middle of the night. They said he will pee on himself a couple times but he will stop once he realizes he needs to hold it throughout the night. They said if we continue to let him out during the night that he will always expect to be let out during the night and therefore will not learn to hold his pee throughout the night. Is this true and is this an acceptable way to crate train a male golden retriever?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
309 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kyle, Do not listen to your friends' advice. Riggs is still young enough that he likely does need to pee in the middle of the night. If you let him pee on himself in the crate multiple times, you run the risk of him loosing his natural desire to hold his pee in a crate. Loosing that desire makes potty training using a crate almost impossible. The situation would be different if he was six-months old, but a ten week old puppy cannot help his need to pee. Continue taking him outside during the night if he asks at this age, but to ensure that he is not asking to go potty out of habit do the following: 1. When you take him out during the night, take him on a leash, keep the trip very boring and calm, and put him straight back into the crate after he pees. If he cries when you put him back in the crate and you know that his bladder is empty now, ignore the crying. 2. Move him out of your bedroom and use an audio baby monitor to listen out for him needing to go potty during the night...You only need to do this if he begins to wake up to play or because he hears you...You can do it if you would simply like for him out of the bedroom however, and it will have the added benefit of teaching him to sleep somewhere away from you - which can make traveling and boarding him easier as an adult. 3. Remove all food and water two hours before you put him to bed. 4. Take him outside to go potty on a leash and watch him to make sure that he actually goes potty, right before you put him to bed - not thirty-minutes or an hour beforehand because his bladder will not shut down until he is actually asleep. His bladder calming down is what allows him to hold his pee throughout the night. 5. Don't expect him to sleep for longer than 10-12 hours at night. The exact amount will depend on how often he sleeps during the day. Keep an eye on his evenings, that 10-12 hours will begin when he falls asleep in the evening, not just when you put him into the crate. If he is going to sleep early in the evening, then he will wake up earlier - fully rested and ready for the day. 6. Don't feed him in the morning until the time when you want him to normally wake up and eat when he is older. You want his body to get used to eating at that time and not an earlier time. If his body gets used to eating at an earlier time because he woke up too early to pee one morning, then his body might begin to wake him up to eat too soon in the morning. If you get him up earlier to pee and let him stay up, then wait to feed him until it is within one-hour of when he normally eats. An occasional exception to this is not detrimental, but avoid a habit of it. If you run into any specific issues, then you can always check back here with questions as he gets older. Most puppies wake up during the night until they are around twelve weeks of age. Their bladders can only go so long. Some puppies sleep through the night earlier and some a bit later, but when a puppy actually needs to pee, he needs to be taken outside. You simply need to stick to your routine and not do anything but take him outside and right back in, so that he will not learn to wake up for any reason (like playing, cuddling or eating) besides a full bladder...Learning to wake up for a reason other than a full bladder is what leads to long term night-wakings. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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